19 August 2012

Psalm of the Bagstamper

August 17th, 4:57 PM. Cooling my heels before heading out the door. Lovely day.

It is a very simple task, this stamping of bags. Ink stamp, lift stamp, stamp bag. Repeat. Two words, two colors, each bag gets stamped twice with one color of each. Simplicity, indeed. It is not the most intellectually engaging work to do, true, but you know what?

That doesn't matter.

Also,you know what? I'm good at it. I'd go so far as to say that I excel at stamping bags with the company name in green and purple ink. The colors look good on the brown kraft paper of the bags, and I have a knack for getting the ink coverage and positioning just right. "It ain't rocket science!" people will say...but it doesn't have to be rocket science.

Let me make it clear that I am not making light of the chore. On my latest workday I stamped enough bags to fill up a cardboard box about 30 inches to a side and 24 inches deep. That is a lot of bags, I can tell you. As can my aching wrist and arm. It may be a simple task, but it need to be done. It is worth doing and therefore it is worth doing right. It is part of the way this particular business of selling spices is conducted.

I like the idea of hand-stamping the bags. It adds humanity to the business, a semi-anonymous (the customers usually don't know who stamped which bags) yet uniquely personal (a person stamped the a paper) touch in a what could be seen as a cold process: exchanging money for goods. One thing I realized, the core reason why I believe I liked what I was doing, is that by hand stamping the bags, each one becomes a unique creation. Retail snowflakes, if you will, through slight variations in word position, word angle, coverage of ink, even the occasional little spatters of ink from hitting the bag a little harder. It was cool, this concept of the simple, imperfect beauty.

So I stood at the counter, stacks of bags and ink pads at the ready. Ink the bag, move the bag, ink the bag, move the bag...I achieved a "no mindedness" flow, as the bags piled up in the box. Simple problem, measurable result. Was I lighting the world on fire, landing on Mars, discovering a cure for the common cold?

No, of course not. What I was doing, however, was getting something done. And that is just what I needed, right there in the Now.


  1. in the Now.

    too many of us forget what that really means, sugar! xoxoxox

  2. Making "retail snowflakes..." Perfect words for your stamping task.

  3. @terlee: Thanks! We have a blizzard of bags, ready to go :)


"Let your laws come undone
Don't suffer your crimes
Let the love in your heart take control..."

-'The Hair Song', by Black Mountain

Tell me what is in your heart...